L. Neil Smith's
Number 263, March 14, 2004

Damned if it's Bush. Damned if it's Kerry. Damn.

[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]

Letter from Michael Brightbill, Scott Bieser, and L. Neil Smith

Letter from e.j.totty

Letter from Steve Smith


Re: The 'toon for issue 262 (last week)

Mr. Holder

Wasn't Lucy Kropotkin supposed to be of Mexican Heritage, not a caucasian midwestern granny? References to L. Neil Smith's Essay "A Maple Leaf Rag"

"...whose best friend is Lucille Conchita Gallegos Kropotkin, the 137-year-old Mexican widow of a famous Russian prince"

and to the cover of his collection of Essays, Lever Action, created by Scott Bieser.

Just thought I'd make the observation.

Michael Brightbill


There are a lot of "Caucasian" Mexicans, as a matter of fact. They're not all Indians or mestizos. When I taught a cartooning class at a local community college, about 17 years ago, one of my students was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed gal from Mexico City.

And of course since Lucy is from San Antonio, she speaks with a Texas accent.

Scott Bieser


Michael, you've asked an extremely interesting question, about Lucy Kropotkin's accent, and the answer is this: in the North American Confederacy, people are more concerned with what they do than what they are (or have been). They mix freely and their language usage rubs off on each other, as it always does.

Imagine what her accent must sound like in Russian! I speak German with a Brooklyn accent, because that's where my teacher of three years came from.

A language scholar named Charleton Laird once said that the English language itself is "merely" the result of Norman soldiers trying to make dates with Anglo-Saxon girls.

It's true that Lucy's ancestry is Mexican. But she's from Texas (born in the shadow of the Alamo) and speaks with the regional accent she was born to. Also, she's 137 years old and has had time to acquire and dispose of several accents.

I, myself, was born in Denver, Colorado and might have had the same Rocky Mountain accent my wife has. She was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. But my dad was in the Air Force and we lived everywhere on this continent from Sacramento, California, to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, to St. John's, Newfoundland, with many a stop in between. By the time we got back from Canada, people in Florida sometimes thought I had an English accent, although that's silly -- Newfies sound just like the northern Irish.

Another of my characters, Bernie Gruenblum (The Nagasaki Vector and numerous short stories) has a Jewish name and the outlook of a New York taxi driver, but he's from the far future, where he lives in a west Texas suburb of Oklahoma City, and he talks pretty much the same way as Lucy.

Regional accents are fun to work with. Right now, in Ceres I'm dealing with a Chechen family—a young woman and two of her uncles—trying to make their accents authentic without making them sound like Boris Badenov.

Thanks for writing,

L. Neil Smith


For that matter, she doesn't think like any of the little ol' Mexican ladies I've known from either Texas or California. Though I gotta admit a lot of Irene Ryan has crept into her appearance.

Scott Bieser

Dear Editor/Mr. Ed,

Re.: "Law Versus Reality" [Part I], by by William Stone, III [Last Issue] http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/tle262-20040307-10.html

Well, I see that the 'third stone' from the sun has managed to walk headlong into my apple cart.

For William Stone, the third, here's my assessment regarding your assessment concerning intellectual property.

First, it was the man he was wont to quote, Mr. Thomas Jefferson, who's idea it was to enable the US Patent and trademark system.

Actually, he'd been in several discussion on the matter with Messrs. Madison and Mason as well. See pages 995-997, The Complete Jeffereson.

All I can say, in that regard, is that if you must quote someone, at least have the honesty to not take things out of context such as to give your own unique spin to the matter.

In fact, Jefferson's thought was the expression that one cannot disown a thought once it is known. But it certainly was most emphatically not an expression of the idea that a person, once in possession of that thought, could proceed at length to abscond. Such an expression is the equal to the idea that a child once born my be taken by anyone else wishing possession of it.

But, that's a bit beside the point.

Second, it is a known fact that everybody ever to be born, is a unique individual, and being unique means that we each have qualities that are our own. None of us could no more claim to be someone else, than we might command their intellect as yours to take advantage of endlessly.

Since we each own ourselves, it follows then, that what has originated from our own minds—which is unique, therefore belongs to us as a uniqueness.

If Mr. Stone, III, proposes to say that everybody is equal, then that would have to follow that we all think the same thoughts, act the same way, and so on.

That we do not puts the truth to 'lie of equality.'

If a person may pretend for even one moment that every other person's unique thoughts are his, then it is a surety that he may also state that he owns the bodies of everyone else. To profess to possess another's intellectual ability, is the very same thing as demanding ownership of the body possessing that uniqueness.

You might just as well put 'udders' on everyone's head, and milk them for all they are worth.

The quintessential essence of the idea that there is no such thing as intellectual property is communism, i.e., "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Under communism there is the edict of total equality, that is, nobody is allowed to be different. It is the philosophy of someone who totally ignores the physical realities of the universe, and the only way it works is either by brute force, or complete cooperation. Both have been tried, and both have failed, for the simple reason that sooner or later, everybody wants to be themselves, i.e., different, and which is completely natural.

The conundrum of communism is that nobody owns anything, yet presumably possess the abilities of everyone else for their own purposes. The pun, if there is one, is that the dog chases his own tail. If he catches it, reality bites!

It is the other side of the coin called slavery, because under slavery, nobody owns anything, and they are the physical property of another.

The first tenet of liberty, is that everyone owns themselves.

Ownership of the person implies that what a person does which is unique, also belongs to that person.

Since the very first thing that a person owns is themselves, that is, the corporeal, then any uniqueness which flows from their intellect, is the second thing they own.

To wit: If I own my own body, then what flows of intellectual ability is mine, in the very same way that if I own a factory, and what flows from my endeavors is also mine to sell, as I see fit as well, or not at all.

Under Mr. Stone's concept, in either case, he owns—at will—the product of the endeavor—with absolutely no compensation. The only term I would employ for such an action is 'theft.'

Now, it is very important to understand that the same thought which announces that there is no such thing as intellectual property, is also the very same thought that there is no such thing as unique ability.

This is so, because if the intellect is able to be used to create a unique ability of the person, then to proclaim no intellectual property, is to also make the demand that the person with the unique ability must endlessly perform for anyone desiring to experience that uniqueness.

I'd hate to be a whore in such a situation ...

If you can't steal their intellectual property, then do the next best/worst thing: You steal their lives.

And now that I consider that further, nobody would be able to get a job, or be in business for themselves, as how could anyone proclaim that they are 'better' than anyone else? If they did make that claim, then by dint of not being able to possess a unique intellect, they would be in a slave to everyone else.

Physical property—which is the third thing that is owned by a person, is obtained through the agency of trade in that intellectual property.

Therefore, to say that one does not possess intellectual property is to blatantly state—unequivocally, that there can be no private property. How can you trade that which cannot be owned? And since it belongs to everyone, how could you you even consider to trade it?

This devolves to another argument: If everybody owns everyone else's intellectual property, then nobody may sell that either, in whatever form it might find itself, in whatever media.

Now, if Mr. Stone, III, proposes to say that he may possess someone else's intellectual property, then he cannot—in any way, manner, fashion, shape or form proceed to 'sell, barter, trade or engage in any form of commerce using that intellectual property, since supposedly it 'belongs' to everyone else.

In fact, by the premise posited by Mr. Stone, III, he is required to distribute free of charge, any and all intellectual property to anyone demanding it, regardless of how much it might cost him to do so. Equal is equal ... If you have it, it belongs to everyone else, right Bill?


Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!

I don't know of anything that would get my Free Market Anarchist Geek senses tingling more than a "Probability Broach" graphic novel. Except maybe an Anime style cartoon version of "Forge of the Elders". Excuse me, I have to clean all the drool from my keyboard.

Steve Smith

[Take a gander at the cover of the thing, which is this issue's 'toon—Mr Ed]

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